Deaf people as British Sign Language teachers: experiences and aspirations

Atherton, Martin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7300-2339 and Barnes, Lynne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4504-7139 (2012) Deaf people as British Sign Language teachers: experiences and aspirations. Deafness and Education International, 14 (4). pp. 184-192. ISSN 1464-3154

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Little research has been undertaken into the profession of British Sign Language (BSL) teaching, despite a huge increase in the number of BSL classes offered over the past twenty years. Following the introduction of Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills standards in 2007, BSL teachers working in ‘further education’ (FE) colleges were required to hold formal teaching qualifications for the first time. Therefore, it is timely to investigate the impact of these changes on the teaching of BSL in the five years since their introduction. This new framework offered the opportunity to greatly enhance BSL teaching through the development of professional skills among BSL teachers but the stark reality is that this has not occurred. This article draws on two research projects that investigated the teaching qualifications held by BSL teachers, their career and professional development aspirations and their views on the training opportunities currently available to deaf sign language users. The research highlighted that there is a need to improve access to relevant information, establish and strengthen peer support networks as well as to establish a designated career path for BSL teachers. Although there are a number of training programmes by which teachers can achieve these new minimum core requirements, very few are specifically tailored to the pedagogic needs of deaf people wishing to gain these qualifications. The potential impact of recent government proposals for teacher qualifications in the FE sector will also be addressed, together with the likely consequences for those wishing to train as BSL teachers.

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